Step aside, LG. You’re not the only player in the game with a perfect-black-level OLED television any more. Sony just announced a new OLED 4K TV at CES, and it ups the ante with a new, more powerful imaging processor and sound that comes from behind the screen rather than below it.
It’s called the A1E, and it’s actually not the first OLED from Sony. That was the XEL-1 in 2008, and it was the world’s first OLED. But it was also 11 inches in size and cost $8000 in Australia — it was the kind of thing that sat on the desk of executives, if those executives had more money than sense. But this is a TV for real people, as long as you’re still willing to spend high-end TV kinda money.
Available in 55-, 65- and 77-inch screen sizes when it launches later this year, the Bravia A1E OLED will enjoy the same perfectly black black levels as LG’s excellent OLEDs, and that’ll be because LG is actually the only manufacturer of large-size OLEDs worldwide: the A1E will use a LG-built panel. But it’ll set itself apart with the way it produces sound, as well as with Sony’s traditionally excellent inbuilt image processing.
The A1E will use what Sony calls Acoustic Surface Sound technology, which produces audio by resonating the entire panel of the display rather than any smaller speaker drivers hidden within the body. That means your sensitive ears will realise the audio is coming from the front of the TV rather than bouncing up from below it or around the sides; we’re a bit sceptical of the tech, but the proof is in the pudding and we’re keen to try it out in person.
The Bravia A1E OLED, along with new X94/X93E LCDs and existing Z9D, will all support Dolby Vision and runs the same Android TV platform as other Sony TVs. More and more Dolby Vision and other format HDR video is slowly being released — including through Netflix and Amazon Video — and Sony Pictures titles including The Dark Tower and the next Spiderman movie will debut with HDR.
Sony is releasing its first UBP-X800 Ultra HD Blu-ray player in the next couple of months, too, and it’s worth remembering that Sony Pictures has a bunch of HDR-compatible 4K Blu-rays on the way over the next year. And, of course, it’s backing all that up with a new Dolby Atmos soundbar with wireless rear speakers and upward-firing overhead surround channels. It’s a good year to buy new home entertainment gadgets, it seems.